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Rio 2016 – content marketing in the face of adversity

August 11, 2016

Dan Jones
Daniel is our content guru. His keen eye for detail and natural flare for language translate strongly across all digital channels.

Doping scandals, economic protests, the Zika virus, failing infrastructure, water pollution…

All of these issues (and a green pool thrown in for good measure) combine to make Rio 2016 the most controversial Olympic Games in recent memory.

Of course, trouble at the Olympics is by no means a new thing but the host city this time around seems fraught with issues that have come under scrutiny from all angles, particularly from its own people. A great number of the population openly view the myriad problems in Rio as a microcosm for the nation as a whole – and they’re making their feelings known.

Legacy under pressure

While we are not here to pass any judgment on the organisation of the event, it’s clear that the Brazilian Olympic Committee is in an unenviable spot and has been for the past few years. For every problem that crops up in the press our ingrained perception of the Olympic brand takes another disreputable hit.

The ideals of undying commitment, sportsmanship and social unity could be said to be largely at odds with the way things have been going so far.

For both organisers and sponsors alike, getting the true voice of the Olympics to cut across the boos and whistles isn’t exactly a cakewalk. Nevermind turning the stadium music volume up; how can you possibly maintain, if not strengthen, the legacy of the Olympics in light of so much disruption?

This is what is really interesting from a content marketing perspective.

The ‘Brand Content Olympics’

First bear in mind that, in addition to the main Olympic brand, there are literally hundreds of satellite sponsors who are looking to run content marketing campaigns to reinforce Olympic values alongside their product or service.

Piercing through the controversy with strong emotional messages is equally important for these businesses. The content landscape has become so competitive and diversified in recent years that we now have a greater focus on incredibly personal, heart-tugging brand content than ever before.

So here we are. The ‘Content Olympics’. There is no better tactic for businesses looking to advertise what they do at this year’s Olympics than emphasising the hard work, determination and, above all, the personal story of how world class athletes got to be where they are today.

The best* example of Olympic content marketing


It’s no surprise that companies like Procter & Gamble – one of the biggest spenders on advertising worldwide – do it better than anyone else. Their ‘Thank You, Mom’ campaign is incredibly clever because it switches the focus of a global audience away from all those organisational problems to the journey of athletes who have worked their entire life towards becoming the best in the world…

When you consider that many people on the planet either have a mother, are a mother, or both, what you get is a incredibly moving advert that goes a long way to justifying why we have an Olympic Games in the first place. Tissue, anyone?

Even smarter is the way they turn the very concept of adversity into a positive force, giving their audience a sense that any problem (organisational or otherwise) can be overcome with sheer will and determination. 

Final thought

You don’t have to be a business the size of P&G to start enjoying the benefits of emotional content marketing. It starts by thinking about every step of your service, plotting the journey of a product and recognising what the emotional ties are to your business, whether it’s laughter or tears.

As the Olympics shows us, brand content is vital for any business looking to reinforce their brand identity and get key messages across to a wide audience, especially in the face of enormous adversity. For this there is no better method than a powerful, carefully crafted content strategy that hits you right between the eyes.

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